Rita Survivor: Dora Pinch

September 14, 2006
By Theresa Schmidt

September 24th 2005-- the day Dora Pinch lost everything material. She'll never forget her home in Grand Chenier. After the hurricane only fragments remained of her home and those items one uses daily, but takes for granted.  She picks up a dish from the ground.  "This was some of the plates I had in my cabinet. I think I had eighteen of these. Probably never find but two or three, if I even find two or three."

Now, a year later, Dora looks forward to moving into her new cottage nearing completion.  She proudly shows me around.   "My new house and this is my new living room and this is the fireplace and the fireplace is going to contain bricks from my house in Grand Chenier."

As heartbreaking as it was at the time, Dora never imagined the pain yet to come. Three months later her son Pat, who also lost his home in Rita, died of a massive heart attack. "He was angry with the insurance companies, very angry. And I mean he'd had a checkup just a few months before and he was okay, you know? I definitely believe it was stress that killed Pat." How do you cope when the pain is so deep, so agonizing. "You get through a loss like this-- when people say there's no God, without faith in him you couldn't live through it."

And while life will never be the same the new house is a sign that life is still good. The sadness comes and goes but there will be happy times ahead. Dora  shows me around her home under construction.  "The sink will be in the corner with the two windows, cabinets around there." It will be fun to decorate a new cottage, cook a gumbo now and then.

For the last year Dora has lived with her daughter Mary Kaye Allemond and her family in Lake Charles. "I imagine they at times would like to have said, 'go home, wherever your home is.'" And that new house is right in Mary Kaye's backyard where she'll always have family close.

At the age of 82 Dora couldn't rebuild in Grand Chenier, but it in no way means she's given up on Cameron Parish. "You know, I'm going to put a trailer in Grand Chenier to go spend some time now because, Grand Chenier, as I told you before, is a wonderful place to live. Sure, Hurricane Rita tore Cameron parish up. But look at the fires in California. They gonna all move out of that place because they had a fire? And Grand Chenier is building faster than the rest of the parish and I am proud of those people that they're doing that."

So, though things won't be the same, Dora knows life is not about what you have or where you live. It's about the people you love and who love you. And being a blessing to each other. "I guess it really makes you realize how important your family is to you." If there's a lesson here, Dora says it's to treasure what you have when you have it, especially the people you love.